The holiday spirit will be alive and well in Altamont this December, as the entire village invokes the sense of community, welcoming visitors throughout the Capital District to enjoy iconic sights and sounds.
Altamont Community Tradition (ACT) sponsors the 13th annual Victorian Holidays Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 14 from noon to 6 p.m.
“It takes a village to put on an event like this,” said ACT committee member Laura Shore. “What I’m excited about is that the event is really changing and involving a lot more businesses. The number of activities is growing. A lot more businesses are participating, and it’s a pretty exciting time for Altamont.”
Shore, who is an Albany transplant, moved to Altamont five years ago. She first involved herself with the celebration after she was asked if her remodeled home could be part of the annual house tour. The following year, she joined the committee. The events and community involvement gave her the feeling of a Norman Rockwell painting.
“It’s been a lot of fun, I have to say,” said Shore. “We’re having a great time here.”
The day features several stops for the entire family to enjoy.
Local author and storyteller Nancy Marie Payne will be on hand for a book signing from noon to 5 p.m. at the Spinning Room on Main St, and guitarist Dave Warner will strum tunes from 2 to 4 p.m. from the Altamont Free Library.
The family dog can have his picture taken with Santa from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agway on Prospect Terrace. There’s a costume contest for both dogs and cats.
“You can’t get any better than that,” said Shore. “It’s just a riot.”
Wisely, each show is separated, with the dog show scheduled for noon and the cats to take the stage an hour later.
Children may be more interested in having lunch with Santa, which is made possible by the VFW Boyd Hilton Post on Mill Street, from 1 to 4 p.m.
An annual favorite of the holiday celebration returns, showcasing the village’s most elegant Victorian period homes.
This year’s Holiday House Tour features seven Altamont period and Victorian homes. These houses are so authentic in appearance to the 19th Century period, some have been recognized throughout the country. One such home is featured in OldHomes.com, a website based out of North Carolina, devoted to the subject of vintage homes. House tours are $10, with trolley transportation funded by SEFCU. Tickets are available at The Masonic Hall on Maple Avenue from noon to 3:15 p.m.
At the hall, people can also vote for their favorite of the Festival of Trees, co-sponsored by Altamont Country Values and 1st National Bank of Scotia. Macintosh the Clown will be on hand to provide balloons, crafts and temporary tattoos between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
In addition to the house tours, there will be crafts for kids in multiple locations throughout the village, including storytelling, music and an expanded Winter Market.
In years past, the Altamont Winter Market consisted of a single, vacant store front, said Shore. It has since expanded, involving 25 local vendors at four different locations. ReNue Spa is to have various homemade goods. Fiamma’s Enchanted Café will also display jewelry, plus tile ornaments, designer neckware, and fair trade items. The distinct sound of bagpipes will direct people to Severson Agency on Maple Avenue, where cards and prints specific to Altamont can be purchased. And, 124 Maple Avenue will have country chic décor and organic cleaning products for the environmentally conscience.
The expansion of the celebration over the years is a product of careful planning and individuals taking the initiative. Shore said committee members start preparing for the celebration in August. The daunting task has become easier through experience, she said.
“Since this is the 13th year, there’s a real pattern to some of the activities,” she said. “[Village] businesses have taken on their own thing, so we don’t have to micromanage that. And, really, what we’re doing is putting an umbrella over a lot of different things and putting it all together. Everybody has pitched in.”
The highlight of the Victorian Holiday Celebration takes place at Orsini Park, where a train carrying Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive at the Altamont Free Library – which once served as the village train station. SMS Lines purchased the ticket for Saint Nick to arrive promptly at 5 p.m.
Festival-goers planning on staying for the long haul are likely going to want to take note of the eateries and locales set up to provide food and spirits.
The American Legion on Altamont Boulevard will hand out free chili and beverages from noon to 5 p.m. Parents may want to take note of the free wine tasting at Mio Vino on Main St. from 1 to 4 p.m. The bar, however, is open all day.
Hungerford Café is offering a special holiday menu throughout the day and Home Front Café, with its new bakery, will display a collection of nutcrackers while providing free hot beverages to patrons.
“Santa coming in on the train [and] hundreds of little kids … people all around. It’s all very exciting,” said Shore. “It’s just a great chance for people to come to Altamont and experience it and have a lot of fun.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.
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